Originally Posted by Dread
"KID STUFF" was considerably better than "POWERLESS" to me if only because that was genuinely funny far more often, and even furthered the subplot of Batman and Wonder Woman's romantic tension in an adorable way. It's only flaw was the random appearance of Entrigan the Demon.
Coming off "POWERLESS", I needed a rebound and fortunately, "ASSAULT ON 42" is it. I was pleased to see Brian Reed and Chris Yost involved in the writing again; it seems Loeb & MAN OF ACTION didn't write EVERY episode of Season 2 after "BEHOLD...THE VISION", but at least from this week's ratio roughly half of them. That's actually better than I expected. "ASSAULT ON 42" sees a return to the infamous prison for super-villains as well as introducing and handling yet another Fantastic Four villain better than an actual Fantastic Four show did. This episode also sees a return of suspense, with some nods owed to "ALIEN" and all that.
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
The episode begins with Cap, Thor, Ms. Marvel, and Wasp escorting Whirlwind to what they hope is a longer stint in 42 than his last; the fact that the prison exists in the Negative Zone where there seems to be nothingness is cemented, only this time something ominous is in the air. Of all the villains in 42, it is the Leader (a returning Jeffrey Combs) who senses the incoming terror the most. While the heroes aren't quick to believe this and some consider it some sort of ploy, it becomes very real when the prison is attacked by nasty looking bugs. They're capable of rending metal and tearing through SHIELD guards. Before long the heroes are trapped on 42 and their task is to hold the line and prevent the bugs from making it back to their world when the next shift of guards returns in two hours - no matter the cost. We get to see many old villains from the previous two seasons and much like in "PRISONERS OF WAR", the heroes have to trust their backs to at least some of their enemies if they hope to live. Once again, Capt. America gives a stirring speech which recruits some added help. There is a nod to "WELCOME TO THE KREE EMPIRE" with Ms. Marvel willing to allow Mar-Vell to aid in the crisis, although Cap's refusal to accept aid from Zemo is naturally a sign of his difference from "Skrull-Cap", who both was willing to accept Zemo's aid and then betray him. While most of the villains refuse, the Avengers get aid from Radioactive Man, Absorbing Man, Abomination, Whirlwind, Skurge the Executioner, a few spare AIM grunts, Leader, and Blizzard. Blizzard in particular continued to remind me of DC's Capt. Cold in his design, and Whirlwind's line about slicing Wasp up when it was over came off more disturbing than quite a few of the bugs themselves. I liked how via good cutaways and storyboards - as well as some horrific screams from the ADR department - it was heavily implied that not all the SHIELD or AIM grunts survived their encounters with the bugs without offending a censorship board. We also got neat little character bits with some of the villains such as Thor and Skurge finding some common ground as Asgardians, and Absorbing Man's loyalty (to a degree) to the Leader. Cap offered any villains who aided them positive word with a parole board, and since both Radioactive Man and Blizzard were Thunderbolts in the comics, could that team emerge this season?
The villain of the piece was Annihilus, a villain Yost utilized in "FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLD'S GREATEST HEROES" to decent effect initially until later focusing on comedy. This episode plays him dead straight as the warlord of a bug empire and using Leader to "communicate" his intentions rather than give Annihilus some squeaky voice was a good move - and another nod to horror films. Naturally, exposition about Annihilus feeling the invasion of positive matter in the Negative Zone and wanting to spite it is ripped from ANNIHILATION, but it's all good stuff. A part of me did wonder where the Guardians Of The Galaxy were, but it was already a busy episode. Fighting endless waves of bugs can get repetitive so the episode's crew wisely played up the suspense of the situation, of being trapped in a void with a skeleton crew of allies and enemies attempting to not only survive, but hold back an invasion. As always with most of these characters, the character model for Annihilus played up his classic design while still making it kick ass. Dr. Doom, the Skrulls, and now Annihilus, all handled better than I've ever seen an FF show handle them.
Last season, I thought casting Jeffrey Combs as the Leader was brilliant, and that "GAMMA WORLD" was the best version of Hulk's arch nemesis ever put to animation, or perhaps even the screen in general. Therefore, I was incredibly pleased to see the Leader return and actually play a crucial role in the episode. While the episode did demand that Leader wail in agony a lot, he was more or less the MVP of the mission.
If the episode has any flaw, it is that the ending seemed a little abrupt. Yes, the heroes successfully drove off the horde and prevented them from invading earth, and welcomed the new shift. But obviously, a lot of work would have to be done to either fortify the prison or move it entirely out of the Negative Zone. What was to stop Annihilus from returning with an even larger horde the next time, and who knows when THAT would be? I suppose there's only so much one episode can do and winning the battle was still crucial, I just found the ending a tad more abrupt than I expected.
Overall, great to see some returning villains, as well as some effective use of suspense and horror techniques to execute what could have been a generic episode if left in poorer hands. In interviews Yost and/or Craig Kyle desired to do a Brood story with the X-Men or anyone and I like to think this episode was perhaps as close as Yost could get with that in "A:EMH". A very great rebound from "POWERLESS", which the show drastically needed to restore faith.
Dread you're right on point as usual but this "Powerless" goes back waayy before JLU and "Kids Stuff". I think SUPERFRIENDS did it like at least
3x to my knowledge.
-There was an episode with Dr. Frankenstein that drained Batman,Superman, Wonder Woman's powers onto his new creation and ROBIN (Hawkeye) was the only one at full strength to pull the team through as he eventually absorbed their remaining powers to fight the SF monster
-Another ep where Aquaman, Superman, and Wonder Woman got turned into the Scarecrow, Tin-man, and Lion from THE WIZARD OF OZ by Mxyp and stripped them of most of their powers.
-Another one was CHALLENGE OF THE SFs
called "World's Deadliest Game" where Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin lost their powers and gadgets and the LOD hunted them for sport.
-As well as another where the SF's got turned into kids which I think was a 7 minute short in those weird early 80s seasons.
-Also X-MEN 90's second season finale "Reunion" had the team in the Savage Land lose all their powers for a while an have to fight without them against The Nasty Boys.
-Also the mid 90s FANTASTIC FOUR
brilliant 2nd season (the best FF ever by far) had an episode with Daredevil (Hawkeye) called "A Blind Man Shall Lead Them" where the FF lost all their powers and had to tackle Dr. Doom. Daredevil DIDN'T lose his power(s) and abilities and had to hold their hands.
etc etc. But I was done with that cliche' by SUPERFRIENDS
. FANTASTIC FOUR
toons are OBSESSED with that plot device and completely beat it death. So like you, seeing this tired cliche' in a 2012 toon just made my brain flatline. ESPECIALLY after you just had Cap in a friggin Skrull prison for 9 eps and Thor was dry humping Asgard/Midguard. The LAST thing I wanted to see Cap and Thor not at full strength at that point where they're fighting a very cool nemesis in THE WRECKING CREW, Cap's first interaction with them.
And although I despise it, didn't that hideous FF WGH from a few years ago have a few eps where they lost their powers as well?
P.S. "Dread, did I miss your "Along Came a Spidey" review? I feel like you may not have posted that along with the "Behold the Vision" debut???